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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

COUTHIE, COOTHIE, Cothie, Coudy, Cowdie, Cuthie, adj. Also coudie (Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 164). The suff. -ie or -y is used indiscriminately with all forms. The adj. is also used adverbially, and the adv. couthiely, coothiely, etc., is found in all the senses of the adj. [′kuθi Sc., but Ags. + ′kɔθɪ̢, ′kudi, ′kʌudi]

1. Of persons or personal qualities: (1) Agreeable, sociable, friendly, sympathetic. Also compar. couthier. Known to Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Ags.17, Fif.13, Slg.3, Edb.1 1940.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 201:
Heal be your Heart, gay couthy Carle, Lang may ye help to toom a Barrel.
Abd. 1929 Mains and Hilly in Abd. Weekly Jnl. (21 Feb.) 6/4:
Gin the lassie didna wint 'im she micht 'a' latten 'im ken in a mair kin'ly, coothie fashion nor that.
Abd. 1990 Stanley Robertson Fish-Hooses (1992) 56:
Years passed and Peggy and Davot were the maist loving coothy pair that ever ye could see.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 18:
Fyles ye myurr-myurr to me my leen,
Your quaverin myowies thin an sma,
Sae saft they're scarce a soun' ava.
Ye're couthy in your fraisin teen.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 16:
Whiles, come evening, gangin ootbye
He'd hae a last bit glower at the lift
Speirin for the morn's morn -
A couthie man forbye.
em.Sc. (a) 1895 “Ian Maclaren” Days of Auld Langsyne 285:
A couthie wumman keeps the door.
em.Sc.(a) 1991 Kate Armstrong in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 116:
Waukin, ye'll find us aiblins drouthy,
But no fer bluid, ken, we're mair couthy.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 52:
"Can I speak wi' you, sir?" he asked, a little more in awe always of the English-educated Eglinton than he had ever been of the more couthy Cochrane, who had spoken in his own familiar tongue.
wm.Sc. 1987 Anna Blair Scottish Tales (1990) 51:
It was to Tibbie Shiel's Inn that the great men escaped for a few days' retreat on their own, or to meet up in cheerful company with others of their kind. In her day Lady Stair might have been the famous formal hostess entertaining the Capital's literati in her gracious apartments overlooking Edinburgh from the Royal Mile, but, in these days of the 1820s there was gustier, couthier laughter under Tibbie's eyes.
Ayr. 1824 Galt Rothelan I. ii. x.:
The magistrate and the chieftain were well known to each other, and had often been couthy together.
w.Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 145:
“What struck me mair than ocht else,” she continued, “was her couthie, affable mainner.”

†(2) Prosperous, in comfortable circumstances.Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 146:
I'm heir to a' my father's store; Fouks ca' me couthie fellow, O; But waes my heart I'll e'en be poor, If I'm deprived of Nelly, O.

(3) Well-disposed, propitious, luck-bringing. Cf. 3. Sc. 1822 A. Sutherland Cospatrick I. i.:
Wierd songs were sung and charmed gifts sent by all the couthie carlines in the country.

2. Of things or places: (1) Comfortable, snug, neat (Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Lnk.13, Kcb.1 1940). Also adv. Bnff. 1948 Neil Paterson The China Run (1986) 17:
...while a fair wind filled the great spread of sail and the couthie little town of Banff, containing all that she knew, receded beyond her horizon.
ne.Sc. 1883–86 D. Grant Chrons. of Keckleton (1888) 10:
Folks warna slack to say that I took him for the sake o' a couthie doonsit, but that wisna the case.
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters 253:
A cothie, weel-furnished house.
m.Sc. 1939 James Barke The Land of the Leal (1987) 493:
It was still to him a bonnie land. Its familiar physical features, its heughs and howes and couthy knowes filled him with longing.
Edb. 1915 J. Fergus The Sodger, etc. (1916) 29:
Nae coothy cots wi' white-washed wa's weel cover'd in wi' theek.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 35:
Sae he left the bierdly biggin' and his couthy bed o' cauff.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 68:
A carle cam o'er Davie's lan', A hazle kent into his han', Wi' couthie cleeding.
Gall. a.1897 R. Ringan's Plewman Cracks 7:
Your Sunday braws dinna sit sae coothie on ye as your ord'nary moleskins that's tash't wi glaur.

(2) Pleasant, agreeable (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Slg.3 1940).Sc. 1989 Scotsman 27 Mar 7:
... it is disappointing and disconcerting ... to discover that Them Through the Wall, the work of two such provocative writers as Liz Lochhead and Agnes Owens, should turn out to be such a cosy and couthy work and one likely only to reinforce stereotypes.
Sc. 1999 Herald 21 Sep 11:
From the music halls emerged the sentimentalised and tartanised caricature of the Scot as the "Bonnie Highland Laddie" resplendent in kilt and plaid, mouthing comic songs and couthy sayings.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 124:
I mysell Kend nought of a' this strange, but cuthie tale.
Ags. 1891 J. M. Barrie Little Minister xxxi.:
“It's setting to rain.” . . . “Ay,” said Tosh, eagerly, “but will it be a saft, cowdie sweet ding-on?”
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 72:
But Scotland bides yet ayont dwam,
bides on the een that maun see it rise
in its real sel, shruggin aff puirtith, the rags
o tasht industries, the skartin fingers o the warkless,
the wanless dorts o couthie rhymes, imported sangs,
relished dool or paradise in a glen.
m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet of Barns iv. ii.:
I can weel say that I ken naucht sae awfu' and sae kindly, sae couthy and bonny and hamely . . . as juist thae green hills and muirs.
m.Sc. 1993 Herald 14 Jun 8:
Talking of couthy weather forecasts, Donald was pointing out last week that if the trees look whiter, then you can expect rain.
sm.Sc. 1984 Alan Temperley in Alexander Scott and James Aitchison New Writing Scotland 2 113:
Mr Fraser, Gregor's technical colleague, who sang couthy and sentimental Scottish ballads, looked up from cleaning his nails with a matchstick and greeted him.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 257:
The sternies, blinkin' bonnie, tell the couthie hour is nigh, When kye come croonin' to the loan.

Deriv. coothiefie, to make pleasant or comfortable. Mry. 1872 W. H. Tester Poems 200:
For something warmer, nobler, reason pleads To coothiefie the soul's remotest chamber.

3. “With a negative prefixed, it denotes what is supposed to refer to the invisible world. Any thing accounted ominous of evil, or of approaching death, is said to be no coudy. The term is also applied to a dreary place which fancy might suppose to be haunted” (Ags. 1808 Jam.). Cf. similar use of Canny, adj., 3.Ags. 1855 A. Douglas Hist. of Ferryden 15:
Gude keeps a' frae seein' unearthly sights — they're nae coothie!

[Cf. Mid.Eng. cuði, known, familiar (Stratmann). For further etym., see Couth, adj. and n.]

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"Couthie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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